The Birth of Rationalism, The Emergence of RationalismJune 28, 2021
Many of the most important philosophers in Europe in the 17th century were also accomplished mathematicians.
In France, Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal made important contributions to mathematics, just like Gottfried Leibniz did in Germany. They believed that the reasoning method of mathematics provided a very good model for how we acquire all of our knowledge of the world. Descartes’ “What can I know?” His exploration of the question brought him as far as rationalism, which would become the dominant view in continental Europe in the next century.
A very different philosophical tradition was being established in England at the same time. Following the scientific reasoning method adopted by Francis Bacon, John Locke concluded that our knowledge of the world comes from experience, not reason. This view, known as empiricism, shaped the English philosophical system during the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite the division between Continental European rationalism and English empiricism (the same division separating the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle), the fact that the human being was at the center of both views was their common ground: the owner of the mind or experience that led to knowledge was the same entity. of the English Channel. The questions of philosophers on both sides about the structure of the universe, which were answered by scientists such as Isaac Newton, shifted towards “how do we know what we know”.
Philosophers were now beginning to investigate the nature of the human mind and self. However, these new philosophical movements had moral and political effects. Just as the rule of the Church was overthrown by the ideas of the Renaissance, the aristocracy and monarchies were under threat from the new ideas of the Enlightenment, as the period was called. If the old administrations were to be overthrown, how would they be replaced?
In England, Hobbes and Locke laid the foundations of democratic thought during the turbulent 17th century; but it would take another 100 years before the current situation began to be questioned elsewhere.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook